In his first post for TV Blackbox, new team member Matthew Simmonds delivers his views on the importance of the last breath of the 30-40 day game.
Last night’s Australian Survivor finale saw two fierce superfans battle it out to gain the favour of the show’s jury, made up of the nine most recently eliminated players who all would have preferred to sit in those coveted final two seats.
Hayley Leake, pain researcher, and George Mladenov, political operative from Bankstown, had both played incredibly admirable but vastly different games in their quest for $500,000 and the title of Sole Survivor. While Hayley outshined physically and often found herself riding the power between opposing alliances, George had orchestrated some sensational blindsides and was responsible for putting everyone on the jury, known as the cockroach that just couldn’t be squashed. His masterful strategic execution was unparalleled, and he
quickly emerged as a viewer favourite to take home the win.
George was convinced the final Tribal Council was his Survivor election day, the final step before coronation to his rightful crown. Yet when the episode played out, it was abundantly clear just who would become victorious when the votes would be revealed, thanks to a term infamous amongst Survivor literature – jury management.
As the nine jurors grilled the finalists, George battled against their questions, deflecting to his own spiel of a flawless strategic game. Whereas Hayley led answers with humility, owning the moves she had made and acknowledging the dreams they crushed along the way. George attempted to tell the jury what they should vote for, instead of appeasing to each juror’s personal ideals for what should garner their vote, something Hayley excelled at.
Ultimately, it led to a decisive 7-2 victory for Hayley, and she walked away half a million dollars richer.
Facing the jury is a daunting task, and it really can make or break someone’s entire game and separate them from a win many think was well deserved. The 2019 champion, Pia Miranda, showed just how convincing strong jury management can be, clinching a clean sweep of 9-0 with an aggressive yet sympathetic final Tribal Council approach, trumping her opponent. In contrast, one of the American Survivor’s greatest strategists, Russell Hantz, lost the 19th season of the show also in a 7-2 vote by not successfully managing the emotions of those he sent to the jury, and failing to be humble for doing what so many others couldn’t.
Much like Russell, George tried convincing the jury his strong strategic game was the textbook definition of how to play Survivor, and thus deserved to win whether they liked him or not. But in reality, there is no right or wrong way to play Survivor. And Hayley’s open and convincing final Tribal strategy, tailored to the personalities of this season’s jury, sealed her victory.
Jury management often divides the fanbase, as it already has with George vs Hayley. Some say George may not have won, but was still the best player overall this season. Others argue the winner will always be the best player of the season, because they did whatever was required to gain the majority of votes from the jury. It’s true, George played phenomenally well strategically and was a great competitor from start to finish. But can you truly be the best if you aren’t able to wrap up the votes for you when it counts?
Whether you’re #TeamHayley or #TeamGeorge, both played incredible games for all 48 days in the Outback. That can’t be disputed. It’s just in the game’s design that, no matter how good you played in the several days prior, where it all really matters is in the answers you give and plea you make in that definitive, final hour.